Massey tractors featured at Valmy Thresheree

Christopher Clough
Wisconsin State Farmer
Maya Richards of Shorewood pretends to drive a 1953 John Deere 40 tractor, mimicking the movements of Walt Nehlsen of Washington Island aboard a ‘56 John Deere 70, at last year’s Valmy Thresheree.

The Northeastern Wisconsin Antique Power Association holds its 35th annual Valmy Thresheree and Antique Machinery Show from Aug. 18 to 20, this year highlighting Massey and Massey-Harris as the featured manufacturer among the antique tractors and farm equipment that will be on display throughout the event.

The Thresheree features classic and vintage farm machinery and power equipment, large and small, on display throughout the weekend, most of them still running and working; many will demonstrate how they work. The machines are scheduled to include grain and bean threshers, a sawmill, shingle mill, hay balers and pressers, stone crushers, straw choppers, some hit-or-miss engines and more.

The original Massey company was founded in Ontario in 1847 by Daniel Massey under the name Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory, making mechanical threshers. The plant moved to Toronto in 1879 under the guidance of Daniel's son, Hart Massey, and, as Massey Manufacturing, became one of Canada's largest employers.

Dave Krajnik of Francis Creek sens wood chips flying as he takes part in the chainsaw competition at last year’s Valmy Thresheree.

A merger in 1891 led to the company being renamed Massey-Harris Ltd., as well as becoming the largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment in the British Empire. The company also did contract work for the U.S. military during World War II, making not just tractors but light tanks and self-propelled artillery vehicles.

The firm made tractors under the Massey-Harris brand until 1958, when the name was changed to Massey Ferguson after a 1953 merger with Ferguson Co. Tractors continue to be sold under the Massey Ferguson name to this day.

The Thresheree started in 1983, when Bernie and Shirley Geisel asked a group of local farmers to produce a show that would bring back the old ways of farming, including working machinery. The Northeastern Wisconsin Antique Power Association was formed to operate it as a two-day event. For the first 15 years it was held on the Geisel farm, near Valmy.

In 1997, the club purchased 30 acres of a nearby farm, seven miles north of Sturgeon Bay. Another adjoining 10 acres were purchased the following year, and the Thresheree was held at that site ever since.

The event now stretches over three days, with dance music from the Bittorf Brothers kicking off the festivities with a Friday night performance at 7 p.m.

Saturday activities begin with a chainsaw competition at 9:30 a.m. (registration at 8:30). An antique tractor pull with four weight classes (machines from 1955 or earlier) gets underway at 11:30 a.m. with competition in several weight classes and trophies to the top three in each.

The Jerry Voelker Orchestra provides polka music for a "barn dance" from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and a polka mass at 5:30. The day's festivities conclude with country music from Modern Day Drifters at 8 p.m.

The Main Street Market team of Egg Harbor celebrates its success in the mud pig wrestling event at last year’s Valmy Thresheree.

Sunday at the Thresheree begins with a Lutheran church service at 8:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., children can get into action with a pedal tractor pull, a "Little Farmer" dress-up contest and a straw stack hunt. A garden tractor pull also begins at 10, with a break at noon for the Cavalcade of Power antique machinery parade. Pony rides for the kids and a musical jam session take place from noon to 3 p.m.

At 3:30 p.m., one of the weekend's most popular attractions gets under way — the mud pig wrestling competition. Teams of four people attempt to catch a pig and place it on top of a barrel in less than one minute. Judges keep their eyes on the pigs to keep their heads above water and keep them as safe as possible. Preregistration is required for participants.

Food and refreshments are served throughout the event.

The Thresheree takes place on the grounds at 5005 Country View Road, Valmy. Admission is $8 for ages 13 and older the weekend, which includes a souvenir button. For more information, including registration for events, call 920-743-4859 or go to

Christopher Clough is the editor of Your Key to the Door Weekly. 920-741-7952 or